I was looking at some of the attractive displays of candy in the store yesterday, and it got me wondering about the origin of those attractive heart-shaped boxes.
Most sources seem to agree that Richard Cadbury – son of John Cadbury, the founder of England’s Cadbury’s cocoa and chocolate company – created the idea of a heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day around the year 1868.
A chocolate sold for eating rather than for baking had been made at the Cadbury factory since 1849, but it was not very tasty by today’s standards. With the availability of cocoa butter, however, Cadbury’s developed a new chocolate recipe that is similar to what we eat today. In addition, Richard Cadbury looked into new marketing techniques for his products. He molded the candy into blocks, bars, and other shapes and sold them in decorated boxes.
The Cadbury boxes were very popular. Some of his original boxes still exist and are collector’s items today. Victorian ladies prized the elaborate heart-shaped boxes and kept them for later use as jewelry or button boxes. Some of the fancy designs were even lined in velvet or silk.
The tradition of the heart-shaped box continues today as most candy companies sell chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for February 14, and many ladies of all ages save the boxes to enjoy long after the candy is gone. I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Valentine’s Day.